Friday, January 20, 2017

A New Era

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me."
-Martin Neimöller

I lost count of the number of times I wanted to dust off this old blog during the election season. Every news article I read about broad-brushing Christians and who they were voting for, every pushback against major candidates in the name of religion, and every headline about yet another injustice urged me to speak up.

But who would listen? That's ultimately what stopped me. I convinced myself that my voice didn't matter- there were already well-known pastors, bloggers, and theologians who were speaking up (some of whom now mocked for it)- and my audience was limited anyway. And to be honest, i felt like it didn't matter. Most everyone I talked to had their mind made up and no bombshell headline or "October surprise" was going to get them to change it. Yet there were also many I knew who felt marginalized, who felt they didn't have a voice, who felt like none of their brothers or sisters in Christ could ever understand where they were coming from.

So I prayed about it. A lot. And I finally heard an answer: "don't be afraid of your voice."

"But if I say, "I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." -Jeremiah 20:9

I honestly didn't think Trump was going to win. Yet despite the polling, I could sense the political winds blowing in his favor so I expected he would make it close. At the same time, I couldn't believe it as I was watching the returns with my family as Hillary lost Ohio, then Pennsylvania, then Michigan (although they stayed too close to call, the momentum was already well in Trump's favor).

I wanted to be hopeful. So many of my friends reassured me that he's surround himself with good people and that his tone would change once the magnitude of his office set in. Neither happened in my opinion. So over the holidays, with this blog looming over my shoulder, I continued to watch the news for every irresponsible tweet, every unqualified nomination, and still more injustice.

And then there were the talking-heads asking the question that ultimately brought me to this point, "what is the church to do now?"

I've been teaching adult Sunday school for the past year and I've been surprised how so much of the Bible is political. I always recognized Jesus-as-Messiah as being counter-political. I recognized the political subversiveness in his teaching. But it wasn't until we studied the book of Revelation that this point really set in. The Gospel is political, there is no denying it. But how we apply that 'Gospel-politic' has been debated for centuries. Obviously, I'm not going to solve that here.

But I will offer my take. This blog began motivated by the unholy marriage between the church and American politics. It returns in a new era, but the motivation is the same.

Today, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States. Today, I am a Christian. And I will no longer be silent.

(Don't get me wrong, I will continue to blog about many of the same things I did before. But I plan on digging more deeply into the political messages of the New Testament. This isn't all about Trump, rather our misguided expectations putting too much of our faith into politics, regardless of which sides we're coming from.)

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